Poor People’s Campaign marches to save democracy and voting rights this weekend

WASHINGTON—With the midterm elections fast approaching, the Poor People’s Campaign is stepping up its emphasis on voting rights and on saving democracy.

Its latest campaigns on that theme will be marches on Oct. 15, at noon local time, in at least 24 cities from coast to coast, including Mobile, Ala., Washington, D.C., Tucson, Springfield, Ill., Sacramento, Boston, Columbia, S.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Pittsburgh.

According to campaign co-chairs the Revs. William Barber II and Liz Theoharis, the theme of the marches will be: “If we ever needed to vote for democracy and justice, we sure do need to vote now!”

The goal is to mobilize five million more poor and low-wealth people nationwide who are already registered to vote but who didn’t cast ballots in the 2020 election to go to the polls—despite voter suppression laws, especially in red states, targeting them.

The campaign reports that 58 million of the nation’s estimated 140 million poor and low-wealth people voted in 2020, a large jump over prior turnouts by that class. But that still left 20 million more registered voters of that class who didn’t. The campaign wants more of them to enter the fight.

Saving democracy from the threat of election deniers and their allies will be a top cause to drive those past non-voters to the polls, where their votes could decisively swing this year’s balloting.

Click here to read the exclusive People’s World interview

with Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.

Those won’t be the sole causes the Oct. 15 marchers will campaign for though.

“If you don’t have living wages, if you don’t have health care for all, if you don’t protect the environment, if you don’t have voting rights, you have an impoverished democracy,” Barber said before the marches.

“In these midterms, poor and low-wealth people are going to demand with their votes that their issues are addressed by elected officials. They are going to vote like our democracy depends on it and will have a major influence on the election.”

And, he pointed out, the marchers will not discuss support for specific elected officials, but their demands for the issues of poor and low-income people and low-wage workers take center stage in the nation’s eyes.

Indeed, two of the Poor People’s Campaign’s key demands ever since it began in Raleigh, N.C., have been raising the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 hourly since 2009, to $15 an hour, and broadening and strengthening the right to organize and unionize.

“The priorities of poor and low-income people are on the ballot this election, from health care to living wages to social programs that lift the load of poverty and much more,” Theoharis said. “We march on Oct. 15 to call attention to our demands and grow our power.” Said the Rev. Kazimir Brown, the campaign’s director of religious affairs: “Too many people are hurting and dying because of immoral policies. We are marching to make our demands heard in the streets and at the ballot box.”

Many of the states where marches are happening have significant populations of poor and low-wealth voters who could swing elections, and key close races this fall, including both the governorship and U.S. Senate races in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, a Senate race in North Carolina, and a pro-worker constitutional amendment referendum in Illinois.

The Republicans nominated anti-worker and anti-poor election deniers in all those close races. Corporate interests back many of them, and also are spending millions to spread lies about the Illinois constitutional amendment. They’re also trying to replace a pro-worker D.C. City Councilwoman Elissa Silverman with realtor-and-corporate-backed candidate Kenyan McDuffie, who gave up his ward seat.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.